Machine Embroidery: Combining Design and Fabric

Selecting a fantastic pattern, inserting the design card into your machine, hoopsing your fabric, and pressing a button might be all it takes to machine embroider. However, there’s a lot more you need know if your aim is to create exquisite clothing with supple, delicate embroidery.

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Any type of fabric, including silks and delicate wools, may be machine-embroidered. A machine that is well-tuned and set at the appropriate needle and bobbin tensions, a well-prepared and positioned design, the right needle and thread for the job, and a thorough understanding of the fabric you’re embroidering so that it’s properly hooped and stabilized all work together to produce exquisite embroidery that is well suited to the fabric, doesn’t pucker, and changes the drape of the fabric. I’ll go over these basics, but I really want to focus on how to pick patterns and materials that work well together and offer advice when they don’t.

What makes a good embroidery design?

A good design is more than just its subject matter and aesthetics. A well-digitized pattern consists of satin and fill stitches, underlay stitches if needed, and a strong framework of stitches creating its outside edge. To reduce the amount of thread clipping required, the design should include a carefully thought-out sewing sequence with minimal jump stitches from one place to another. Additionally, it has to be worn with a fabric that complements it and brings out its greatest features.

You can consider the properties of the cloth the pattern will be sewed on if you digitize your own designs or have them custom-digitized. However, it is your responsibility to match the design with the fabric whether using stock patterns from independent design firms, the Internet, or designs included with your machine.

Think about the weave and weight of the cloth.

It’s critical to realize that, even with the right stabilizer, not every pattern should be applied to every kind of cloth. For instance, a heavily embroidered pattern may strain knits and lightweight, loosely woven textiles, perhaps leading to the weave coming apart. Dense patterns can work well on sturdy, medium- to heavyweight woven fabrics, but they could be too rigid for a flowing fabric.

With a fabric that is woven more smoothly, the same design stitches out neatly.

For a thick pile fabric, like fleece or terry cloth, a tiny, less densely stitched pattern would not work well since the coverage might be insufficient and the design would be lost. The best fabric for this kind of pattern is one with a smooth surface and a basic weave. In order to prevent the pile from showing through the threads, a deep pile fabric may benefit from a pattern with noticeable underlay stitches. On the other hand, it could be too thick for a drapey or soft knit weave.

Think on the color of the cloth and how you want to utilize it, in addition to its weight and weave. Pastel needlework will likely be obscured by bold colors or patterns; a huge, dense flower design on silk velvet, for example, would look great on a pillow cover but seem painfully rigid on a long, flowing skirt. Sometimes the best course of action is to select a different design; other times, you may modify the existing design to make it work.

Do your design and fabric go together?

A good combination of fabric and design requires careful consideration of the fabric’s properties, intended usage, and design elements. Consider the following queries, and create test samples at all times:

Will the stitch density of the pattern alter the fabric’s hand? If yes, how does this affect your project?

What effects will the color, weight, and texture of the cloth have on the design?

Can applying a backing or topping help you achieve better results?

If you only switch out the thread colors, would the fabric and pattern still work together?

Is it possible to modify the design to make it function, or is selecting a new design the better option?

Fabric stabilization: backings and toppings

You must hoop knits and wovens smoothly, without stretching, and with neutral tension in order to stitch out a design. Velvet is an exception, which I’ll talk about shortly. However, for four-way stretch Lycra knits, they must be stretched in the hoop in the same direction and to the same extent as they would stretch on the body when worn (and backed with a cutaway stabilizer). If not, the garment will not flex against the body, putting excessive strain on the fabric and design.